Music life in lockdown week 21

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home. Albums listened to for week 21 covers from 10-14 August.

Monday 10 August

Another day at the “home” office and more tunes to listen to. Today I picked a variety of American rock albums with all different styles. I think a wee bit of everything.

Bad Religion’s fifteen album (yes 15!) The Dissent of Man (2010) caught my attention around that time. I knew of the band but wasn’t familiar with their back catalogue but this album I bought after listening to some of their songs. They have released more albums after this too.

American Hi Fi were formed in 1998 by Stacey Jones (drummer from Vercua Salt) self-titled album from 2001 is a favourite of mine. NME described them as “The Blink 182 that think”. It’s a good fun album that doesn’t take itself seriously. I saw these guys live once in Glasgow and they were brilliant.

Filter formed in 1993 by Richard Patrick who was previously in Nine Inch Nails. Their debut album, Short Bus (1995) wasn’t the first Filter album I bought. I started listening to the band around 1998 when they had a song on The X Files movie, called One. Useless X File trivia fact – Robert Patrick who played Agent Doggett in the series is Richard’s brother. Hi Man, Nice Shot was a big single from this album. They mix the industrial metal sound with grunge.

The Hold Steady formed in 2003 and Boys and Girls in America (2006) was their third album. I started to listen to them before they came to Belfast in the summer of 2007 when they played at Tennent’s Vital in Belfast’s Ormeau Park. I really wanted to see them live but they were supporting Razorlight. Manic Street Preachers were also on the bill that day too but my friends opted to go to the second night, headlined by The Killers. Was a bit disappointed at missing that one.

Everclear from Portland, Oregon released Sparkle and Fade in 1995. I got this album shortly after hearing them on the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack. They formed in 1991 so would have been around at the time of grunge. There would be many comparisons with Nirvana but after a show with Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl said he didn’t think that Everclear sounded anything like his former band.  I found movie soundtracks are good ways to finding new bands to listen to.

My Chemical Romance’s (MCR) The Black Parade (2006) is a rock opera album very much like Pink Floyd’s The Wall and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust . MCR are considered an emo band but this album really does take it’s influence from classic 1970’s rock which lead singer Gerard Way citing both Queen and Pink Floyd as influences.

Tuesday 11 August

And So I Watch You From Afar (ASIWYFA) are Northern Irish instrumental group that I have been into since 2009.  I discovered them with some of the local scene at the time and I liked to support local acts.  The band have released five albums to date.  Described as post rock they are an amazing band and put on really energic shows despite having no singing at all.

Their self-titled album was released in 2009 and it was re-released in 2013 including the 4 track Letters EP. This is a fantastic debut and the band really does show their potential.  Check out this clip from RTE’s Other Voices music programme with the explosive Set Guitars To Kill  which is a live favourite.

The follow up Gangs (2011) expanded on the sound from the first album.  It got nominated for the Irish Choice Music Prize in January 2012 losing out to Jape.  The next three albums  All Hail Bright Futures (2013), Heirs (2015) and The Endless Shimmering (2017) continued the sonic bombardment. The bonus CD Tonight The City Burns was picked up at one for their first gigs that I went to.

Prior to lockdown down ASIWYFA were one of the few bands I got to see at the start of the year when they took to the stage at the Belfast MAC for a gig with a difference.  It was all-seated and the band played behind a screen with a string quartet with visual arts on screen.  It was an amazing experience to see them play the 50 minute Jettison set which was quite different to their normal live shows.

Wednesday 12 August

Mixing it up mid week and going beyond the comfort zone with some albums by The Prodigy, Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys along with one of my favourite movie soundtracks, Judgement Night.

I must admit that I never liked dance music.  I was very stuck in my ways liking only guitar based music but along came The Prodigy with their third album, The Fat of the Land (1997) and I am converted!  This album really created a fusion of techno beats to the industrial metal sound of grinding guitars.  Metal Hammer magazine commented that it was “the point where rave culture collided with metal culture”.   It produced hit singles Breathe and Firestarter (oddly enough covered by Jimmy Eat World which was quite good), the album ends with a fantastic cover of L7’s Fuel My Fire.

Their fifth album, Invaders Must Die (2009) even featured Dave Grohl doing live drums on Run with the Wolves and Stand Up.   The bands last two albums, The Day Is My Enemy (2015) and No Tourists (2018) are also played here.  It is their final studio album featuring Keith Flint who sadly died in 2019.  A great live band too and I have enjoyed every show that I have seen them play here.

 I hated rap but then rap started crossing over into rock with Run DMC pairing up with Aerosmith for Walk This Way and also Anthrax doing Bring the Noise with Public Enemy I really liked it and this leads to this album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988).  The original version of Bring The Noise is featured here.

The Judgement Night soundtrack from the 1993 film of the same name features collaborations between hip-hop and rock artists.  The film wasn’t very good but the music was excellent and featured many bands that I like such as Helmet, Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney and Therapy? all mixing it up with House of Pain, Run DMC, Ice T, De La Soul to name but a few.

Finally, it was time for Beastie Boys.   A band I really hated at the end of the 1980s.  Maybe I didn’t get it at the time as I liked my music to be more rock oriented I was pleasantly surprised after watching the documentary on them, Beastie Boys Story (2020) told the story of their origins from hardcore punk to rap which was really intersting.  On listening to Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science (1999) it really appealed to the casual fan like myself.  The collection over two discs of their greatest hits, b sides and unreleased tracks.  My favourites include Intergalactic and Sabotage are on this.

Thursday 13 August

Today was all about The Gaslight Anthem.  I discovered them when they released their second album, The 59 Sound (2008) after watching their performance at Glastonbury 2009 on TV.  This was the gig that Bruce Springsteen who was also headlining Glastonbury in 2009.  Brian Fallon would later return the compliment when he joined Bruce on stage later.

Listening to the album you could hear the influence of Springsteen on the band which is no bad thing.  They are also influenced by The Clash and Tom Waits.

By 2010 the band released their third album, American Slang and I got to see them for the first time when they came to Belfast.  They were tremendous live.  Handwritten (2014) was their fourth album and their first on a major label which took their sound back to their breakthrough album.

Their fifth and final album before their hiatus was Get Hurt (2014).  Brian Falllon’s next project was to go solo.  The band done some reunion shows for the anniversary of The 59 Sound

The tour came to Dublin only this time instead of Belfast and getting tickets for that was quite hard so had to settle for seeing Brian Fallon doing his own solo show.

Friday 14 August

To finish yet another working week it was time to go back to the 1990s for some alternative rock from the USA.  You can tell that I really love my music from the 1990s.

Three bands feature here – Buffalo Tom, Soul Asylum and Live.

I’ll start off with Live.  I was in America in 1994 and Throwing Copper had come out.  I was in a shop browsing for CDs and I bought it along with some other CDs.  I really loved this album considering that I bought it on pure impulse.  The follow up Secret Samadhi (1997) was the last CD I bought of the band and I had lost a bit of interest in them.

Soul Asylum had a big hit in 1993 with Runaway Train but the first two songs that I heard from them were on compilation albums.  On Greetings From Uncle Sam, the track Black Gold which was on their sixth album Grave Dancers Union (1992) was my introduction to the band.  I also liked their cover of Sexual Healing on the No Alternative album.

The follow up Let Your Dim Light Shine (1995) was the last time I listened to them. They would release another album after this before being dropped by their label and thus ended my interest in the band.  But as I have discovered throughout lockdown I have been revisiting albums that I was listening to at the time and being surprised that bands that I had forgotten about were still producing music.

Buffalo Tom enjoyed some early success in the 1990s with Sodajerk (1993) which was from their fourth album Big Red Letter Day (1993).  Again a couple of complilation albums introduced me to the band.  Like Soul Asylum, I would discover Tailights Fade (Greetings from Uncle Sam) and For All To See (No Alternative).   Big Red Letter Day was one of my favourite albums that year and I played it non-stop.

Let Me Come Over (1992) is the album that had Tailights Fade on it and is a fantastic album.  Not pictured was the compilation album Besides: A Collection of B-Sides and Rarities (2002).  It is a nice introduction to the band and it includes a really great cover of The Jam’s Going Underground.

I finally got to see the band in 2018 when I went over to Birmingham to see them.  Little did I know that Buffalo Tom did visit Belfast back in 1991 supporting The Wedding Present at Mandela Hall and back again in 1994 at the Limelight.  Back in the day when I wouldn’t go to gigs on my own.  Really kicking myself for missing these!







Music life in lockdown week 14

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home.  Albums listened to for week 14 cover from 22 June to 25 June.

Monday 22 June – Emo day

Have I really gone all emo today?  Decided to explore a wee bit of American music so picked this bunch which depending on how you wished to label it emo, nu-rock, post hardcore, punk pop or math rock (yeah there is such a thing!).

Out of all the bands played here I have only seen three – The Ataris,  Cave In and Taking Back Sunday.  I did have a ticket for  My Chemical Romance but me and my wife couldn’t go so we ended up selling our ticket.  I never bothered to get a ticket for the reunion show this year but all gigs are cancelled thanks to Covid.

Ok, a quick run down on the albums played on Monday.   The first three albums played were recommendations from Kerrrang magazine.  There was money off coupons and thanks to the free CDS that were given away in magazines it lead to interest in buying some of these albums.Soundtrack 22 June

The Ataris So, Long Astoria (2003) was a really good album and I love their version of Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer where they name check Black Flag rather than Deadhead from the original.

Cave In’s third and only major label studio album Antenna (2003) and The Blood Brothers was another recommendation and I bought their third album …Burn, Piano Island, Burn (2003) and is quite hard working listening to it due to a lot of screaming!  Hope the neighbours didn’t notice but the volume wasn’t definitely up that early in the morning.

Another band whose album was part of the money off promotion was The Movielife.  Their album, Forty Hour Train Back to Penn (2003) was a great listen.  Sadly they broken up after that.  One thing I have noticed abut the three albums chosen so afar was that they were all album number 3 for each band.  Crazy to think I had never had heard of them before but sometimes the exposure in a magazine can help reach out.

Sunny Day Real Estate released Diary in 1994 at the height of the grunge.  However, the band didn’t sound like the popular Seattle bands at the time but was more melodic and would be the benchmark for future emo groups.  William Goldsmith and Nate Mendel would go on and join Foo Fighters.

Another couple of bands that I listened to post 2000 were Thursday and ThriceWar All The Time (2003) by Thursday and The Artist in the Ambulance (2003) by Thrice were played hereThese two bands would get another day allocated to themselves later.

Rounding off the emo themed day were the two heavyweights of the genre – Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical RomanceTell All Your Friends (2002) by Taking Back Sunday is a great record.  I got to see the band in Dublin around that time.

My Chemical Romance however were the band that went on to greater success than all the others listed here.  Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004) was their second album.  Bigger things awaited with their biggest seller The Black Parade (2006).

Tuesday 23 June – Sounds from the American underground

After a day of emo rock it was time to go back to the older bands from the 1990s and mainstays of the alternative rock scene – Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh.Soundtrack 23 June

Pavement’s biggest hit was the single Cut Your Hair (1994) and I have been a fan of the band since.  I only got to see them once that that was at the Glastonbury festival in 1999 which is the subject matter over the next couple of days.  A great collection of Pavement albums here – Slanted and Enchanted (1992), Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994) – my favourite album, Brighten the Corners (1997) and Terror Twilight (1999).  The compilation album Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement (2010) was issued to coincide with the reunion of the band and collected the best songs from all their albums.

I got into Dinosaur Jr. in 1993 when they released Where You Been.   That year proved to be a really great year of music.  The follow up Without a Sound (1996) would be their six album so I had a lot of catching up to do.  Feel the Pain was a big hit for them from this album.  They are loud live!

Sebaodh was formed by Lou Barlow who played bass for Dinosaur Jr.   I got into them quite late so wasn’t too familiar with a lot of their stuff.  Their seventh album, The Sebadoh (1999), was their first and only released on a major label.  I am going to check out their other albums.

Wednesday 24 June – Clutch

To say that the hump day was going to be pure rock fury was no understatement! You won’t get a harder working band than these guys and front man Neil Fallon is an awesome frontman that he gives 100% each time live.

Clutch were one of the gig casualties of Covid.  I was looking forward to their return to Belfast as their shows here have been amazing and you get a great buzz seeing them live.

So without further ado it’s onto the albums that I own and listened to today.  The volume is definitely going up! Soundtrack 24 June

First up is Pitchfork & Lost Needles (2005) which is collection of songs from EPs.  Jam Room (1999) was their fourth album.  I think around this time I may have seen them supporting Therapy?  A live album, Live at the Googoplex (2002) is a collection of various live recordings during the Pure Rock Fury tour.

But it is the next three albums that have got me back into Clutch in a big way. Earth Rocker (2013) does not disappoint.  It is an banger of an album.  Definitely one of my favourites.  The next two albums are great too – Psychic Warfare (2015) and the most recent album, The Book of Bad Decisions (2018) which is the album they were currently touring.

Was so looking forward to seeing them this year but the good news is they are coming back to Belfast next year.  They make great videos for their songs and How To Shake Hands is hilarious spoofing on Neil Fallon being a presidential candidate and wins!  He is going to put Jimi Hendrix on a 20 dollar bill and Bill Hicks on a five note!  What a time to be alive!

Thursday 25 June – Glastonbury part 1Soundtrack 25 June

Glastonbury was no doubt amongst many festivals that had been effected by the pandemic.  BBC were going to provide lots of footage of the festival over the years so for Thursday I had a look at what they were streaming and had a listen while working.  I caught up with sets by Nick Cave (2013) was due to see him this year, The Charlatans (2019), Idles (2019) and Primal Scream (2011).  Never got round to watching Radiohead’s set from 1997 (have that on bootleg CD) and had seen the band a few dates beforehand in Dublin before they played Glastonbury.  The live footage definitely worked as it was just as good as being there.

Friday 26 June – Glastonbury part 2 the one I was at.

I made my one and only trip to Glasonbury in 1999 and what a weekend it was.  I really enjoyed it but it was pure hell on earth trying to get home.  I never made it back after that.

I seen quite a lot of bands that day but have opted for this lot to listen to as they had albums out and were on tour at the time – Bush, Manic Street Preachers, Hole, REM, Ash and Skunk Anansie.Soundtrack 26 June Glastonbury

Ok, starting off with the band less popular in their home country but huge in America – Bush.   The Science of Things (1999) was their third album.  Next up was Hole.  I never thought I would have liked them but they surprised me.  Celebrity Skin (1998)  was their most commercially successful albums.  I hadn’t listened to this album in a while.

Manic Street Preachers first headline slot at Glastonbury was marred by the “toilet gate scandal”.  Turned out the band reserved the toilets for themselves which didn’t go down too well with Billy Bragg!  This Is Truth Tell Me Yours (1998) was the followed up from the success of 1996’s Everything Must Go.  It was on this tour that I got to see the band live for the first time.  They played Belfast a few days earlier before Glastonbury.  The crowd was huge and it was impossible to get near the front.  I

Surprise headliners that weekend were Skunk Anansie.  Stoosh (1996) was their second album and I gave that listen to for the first time in ages.

Headliners REM did not disappoint.  They also played Dublin that year too and it was great to see them twice in one year.   Up (1998) was their current LP and they were touring it.  I managed to get a box set of REM At the BBC which contained two discs of their entire live set from Glastonbury.  It was great to listen to it again and relive the experience.